Ridiculously Expensive Plastic Panel Keeps Falling Off CTS


The earliest CTS sedans have a terrible time holding onto their rear bezels. The large plastic piece surrounds the license plate and covers the reverse lights. Chances are you've seen a CTS that's missing one. It's not a battle scar so much as it is a badge of shame.

The back of a CTS with the license plate spelling WTF GM
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The bezels can fall off at any time and most owners don't even know it happened until they get home. Some even think they're stolen but the only theft going on is how Cadillac convinced them to drop $30,000 on a car that drops plastic at the local car wash.

The problem seems to only happen to 2003 and early-2004 models. At some point during the manufacturing of the 2004, Cadillac switched designs and started bolting in the panels.

Any Chance of a Recall?

No. (sorry)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will only intervene in issues where safety is involved, not pride. And trusting Cadillac to do the right thing here is, well ... just don't.

You Want How Much For a Molded Piece of Plastic?

It's such a common problem that replacement parts are hard to come by.

Once you find an OEM replacement it'll run you about $770. Yes, it's just plastic. No, that's not a typo.

So the ridiculous cost + no chance of a recall means most owners check ebay or aftermarket part sites instead. Some have even called junkyards to try and find a replacement but those sharks smell blood in the water and still charge $500 for a non color-matched version.

Cadillac Generations Where This Problem Happens

This problem has been reported by owners of the following generations. While there's no guarantee it affects all the listed model years, most years within a generation share the same parts, manufacturing processes, and problems.

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA

More Information About The Affected Models

Cadillac CTS

21st out of 22